Navigating the convergence challenges facing international broadcasters | Blog
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AviCohenOnline video is now an inevitable part of broadcasting's future, spurred on by the increasing global ownership of tablet and smartphone devices. Global audiences expect content to be accessible anywhere, anytime, on any connected device and in a variety of consumption options including linear channels as well as video on demand (VOD); an expectation that is dramatically altering the broadcast distribution landscape and the standard business model.

But whilst online video is now a firm part of daily life, the distribution landscape is still disjointed, with many providers struggling to understand how to adapt to the convergence of traditional and digital TV.

Online video is now an inevitable part of broadcasting's future, spurred on by the increasing global ownership of tablet and smartphone devices. Global audiences expect content to be accessible anywhere, anytime, on any connected device and in a variety of consumption options including linear channels as well as video on demand (VOD); an expectation that is dramatically altering the broadcast distribution landscape and the standard business model.

But whilst online video is now a firm part of daily life, the distribution landscape is still disjointed, with many providers struggling to understand how to adapt to the convergence of traditional and digital TV.

For audiences, although now globally connected, traditional TV is still the focal point of many homes, meaning that if today's broadcasters are to stay ahead of the game and increase revenues they need an end-to-end broadcasting solution, capable of delivering both. With figures from Ovum revealing that by 2017 20% of all audiences viewing hours will take place online, it leaves little time to plan and implement a new operational structure.

A recent example of this in action can be seen with the news that American broadcast satellite provider Dish Network has secured the rights to include numerous high profile Disney-owned channels, in a TV service delivered entirely over the Internet. This new deal is ground-breaking, revealing a new era of quality online video content, targeted to meet changing consumer demands.

This announcement demonstrates the encroaching convergence of media, and how businesses are targeting the next generation of viewers and subscription buyers; those aged between 18-30. In addition, pure-play services such as Netflix cater directly to the needs of the viewer, allowing content to be viewed anytime and across devices, no longer restricted by channel, time or location.

A new broadcasting business model is emerging and online video providers are leading the way in terms of offering the tools necessary to adapt to the changes in viewer habits. As viewers now demand instant access, interactivity and mobile capabilities, online video providers understand the online landscape and the agility needed to succeed in digital broadcasting.

However, despite the new monetisation advantages to be gained from the convergence of broadcast TV and online video, broadcasters and distributors alike need to be aware of consumption in local markets. For instance there are still many opportunities to break in to emerging markets, where online video is not the predominant form of content consumption...yet.

The UK recently bore witness to the news that its youth-focused BBC3 channel will be moved to an online-only capacity in a bid to save money. The move also coincides with the online viewing habits of its 16-34 aged audience, which views the majority of their programming online.

Knowledge is essential. It isn't enough to simply provide the tools for online content distribution; it is essential to understand the market and the consumer's primary needs for content delivery – thinking 'glocal'.

For instance, although mobile device usage in the western world is almost ubiquitous, other lower income and rural countries are slower to adopt, meaning traditional TV still reigns supreme for viewing. Consequently, businesses in these regions require a different model to reach their audiences who may not have access to smartphones or even the Internet on a daily basis.

Alliances with local partners, cultural understanding and in depth customer insight will assist businesses in reaching new audiences in untouched regions.

The distribution, broadcast and content industry is currently an extremely competitive space, however as the divide between traditional TV and digital services continue to blur over the next few years, only those who are prepared to adapt and develop their services will survive. That means conforming to a new business model, understanding audiences and providing end-to-end solutions across devices.


About the author

AviCohenAvi Cohen, CEO of RRsat

Avi Cohen was appointed as CEO of RRsat in July 2012. Bringing 30 years of business leadership experience to the company, from roles within leading technology and telecommunication companies, he has been tasked with making RRsat the long-term partner of choice for customers of digital media services.

As the CEO of the primary end-to-end partner for broadcasters and content owners, Cohen's role is to steer the company through this competitive market, delivering value via innovative and cost-effective media management and distribution services.